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Can Internet Pseudonymity Be Saved?

GargamelSpaceman Re:Many (491 comments)

Ok, I don't use Facebook either, but I do use youtube. I don't have my real name associated with my account, and I only watch, not produce videos, so nobody would see my face. I uploaded a hand drawn face as my avatar.

I do have a real gmail account that I use for official business, but I never log into it with firefox. I keep an instance of chrome for all my real-world/real-name transactions that I don't use for anything else.

But I finally gave in and let google have my real phone number for password verification, both my real name and my pseudonym are now tied together by at least that. ( they probably had me pegged before that dispite polipo etc, but now they do for sure. )

Now youtube keeps asking me if I want to appear as blank picture ( MyUserName ) or my avatar picture ( MyUserName@gmail.com ). Though I would like to appear as my avatar picture ( MyUserName ). That's not a choice. So I choose a blank avatar. It was a cute hand drawn avatar that now nobody will see.. .

I think the thing to worry about is if you've already given your info and your identity is outed by some site you've signed into. If they know your real name, they can out you some day, so don't do anything interesting on their site.

about 7 months ago

45% of U.S. Jobs Vulnerable To Automation

GargamelSpaceman Re:"how soon laws outlawing automation? (625 comments)

I didn't directly use the backhoe, but used capital ( money ) to hire a backhoe. My labor was phoning in the request ( and also the other non-digging stuff I had to do for my home improvement project ). A backhoe is capital, money is capital. I was working for myself using my customer's money. My customer just happened to be me. If I didn't have the money, then I wouldn't have gotten the job done nearly as fast, or maybe not at all.

about 6 months ago

Study: Our 3D Universe Could Have Originated From a 4D Black Hole

GargamelSpaceman Re:Uhhh... what did he just say to us? (337 comments)

I don't think it said that we live in the event horizon. We're the nebula, right? And since it is a 4D nebula, we're only a tiny slice of it.

I love/hate these developments b/c I don't understand them but they're interesting, and why really? Why are they sometimes interesting even though I don't understand them?

Puff puff pass.

Maybe that's it.

about 7 months ago

45% of U.S. Jobs Vulnerable To Automation

GargamelSpaceman Re:"how soon laws outlawing automation? (625 comments)

Not arguing with your point but the way productivity is defined by economists, it is how much you produce with your labor, which of course depends on the capital you use. Since you are only one person you can only labor at most 24x7 if you were some kind of mutant that didn't require sleep, and could multitask while eating and using the bathroom.

You labor the same whether you use a hand shovel or a backhoe, but you are far more productive with the backhoe. However, 'being productive' doesn't somehow make you superior. For instance I hired someone with a backhoe to dig a trench after calculating that it would take me three months of digging with a shovel. Now, I've never used a backhoe, but I am sure that it would be quicker to learn even by trial and error than it would be to dig even a small amount of that trench with a spade.

And imagine how long it would take someone to scratch the trench out with no shovel but just a sharp stick!

about 7 months ago

45% of U.S. Jobs Vulnerable To Automation

GargamelSpaceman Re:"how soon laws outlawing automation? (625 comments)

In an economic sense productivity amounts to what capital you employ. You can sit on your ass and collect interest and be productive. Unproductive means poor.

about 7 months ago

45% of U.S. Jobs Vulnerable To Automation

GargamelSpaceman Re:Fortunately for me (625 comments)

The job is safe (for a while), but your wages aren't. There will be many who lose their job who will compete with you for yours.

about 7 months ago

45% of U.S. Jobs Vulnerable To Automation

GargamelSpaceman Re:Too Advanced to not Fail (625 comments)

Actually this might be humanities 'saving grace'. With all the 'excess' people gone, there might still be things like wildlife. If game weren't owned by the nobility, then the middle ages would likely have seen the end of game. Humans might be displaced by machines in the same kind of way the natives were displaced by the technologically superior white interlopers. Of course there will be a few humans running things for a while at least until a monopoly vertically integrates everything, and the last human who runs it all dies once their family becomes too inbred to reproduce.

about 7 months ago

45% of U.S. Jobs Vulnerable To Automation

GargamelSpaceman Re: AI and robotics and jobs (625 comments)

What would people do without jobs

If they have pasive income, look to what those who don't need to work do now.

If they do not have passive income, then they starve.

about 7 months ago

45% of U.S. Jobs Vulnerable To Automation

GargamelSpaceman Re:AI and robotics and jobs (625 comments)

No, being endowed with a trust fund is far superior. This way you're more productive as you have robots working FOR you. If you don't have the capital, then you have to work with your own efforts which, you being merely human, are becoming obsolete.

about 7 months ago

Flash Mobs of Trading Robots Coalescing To Rule Markets

GargamelSpaceman Re:Predatory investing? (251 comments)

Wait a minute, why is any different than humans doing the trading? What I see is an ecosystem of algorithms created by humans to make the most profit.

There are few strategies, and lots of bots which creates unstable ecosystems. This is because humans haven't been sufficiently imaginitive to create a diverse ecosystem of bots.

What will probably happen, is that someone will bring sexually reproducing bots to the table whose genes specify strategies to use. These bots will be raised by their parent bots, which will feed them seed capital to begin trading. Inneffetctive bots will lose their money and be unable to reproduce. Profitable bots will pass on their 'genes'. Once in a while the bots' 'biomass' (cash) will be harvested for by humans for consumption.

Once the breeding creates enough diversity, the market ecosystem should stabliize.

about 7 months ago

Syrian Gov't Agrees To Russian Chem-Weapon Turnover Plan

GargamelSpaceman Re:So now what's the new conspiracy theory? (362 comments)

Why is not wanting to go to war in Syria considered anti-US? More than half the house of representatives seem to not want to go to war in Syria.

Nobody knows what happened, for sure, or who used the weapons, Assad, or the Rebels, but I actually don't care. It shouldn't involve the US's military.

And because I don't think anyone who wasn't there knows who did what, and even if someone did, because I have no way of vetting their investigations/spin, I have to go with what was my first guess based on who stands to gain. I think likely some Syrian govt. CW depot was captured by the Rebels, or someone in the Syrian military with access to CW, defected to the Rebels, or a Rebel sympathizer in the Syrian military who had not defected officially fired the CW in order to get the US and pals to intervene on the Rebel's behalf.

It only makes sense that the Rebels bombed themselves.

The US shouldn't be anyone's tool.

Also - Syria under Assad is in the US's interest. Having Assad there as a threat gives the US leverage over Saudi Arabia and others in the area who open the oil spigots whenever the US calls because the US is important in protecting themselves from the Assad/Iraq/Iran axis. Assad/Iraq/Iran, aren't the buddies of the US, which means the US isn't liable in a P.R. way for any damage they do, but they could only do real damage with US complicity. This makes them the US's mafia muscle in the area. If the US got rid of Assad, it would be like icing it's own hitman.

Who will pay for protection without the muscle?

And Europe wants a pipeline from SA through Syria so it isn't as dependent on Russian oil. And SA wants the added customers in Europe which BTW would help it thumb it's nose at the US.

How is getting rid of Assad good for the US again?

about 7 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Linux Security, In Light of NSA Crypto-Subverting Attacks?

GargamelSpaceman Re:Ken Thompson, Anyone? (472 comments)

And the NSA are experts. And the military is a big customer. All you have to do is requrire backdoor-enabled encryption in all military hardware ( it could be secure against anyone without the NSA keys ) or give the most prestigious security certifications to only the stuff with the backdoors, justifying it on some other grounds, and you don't need to send national security letters. People will do it voluntarily - Don't you want to use the security that the experts at the NSA have vetted? And if it weren't secure why would the military be buying it? They're eating their own dogfood, so it can't be bad right?

Also if you're a for profit company you don't REALLY give a damn if the NSA is spying. You're out for money.

And if you are not using software designed for profit, but talking to/through software that is compromised, are you compromised? Has the protocol been negotiated to a level friendly to snooping? You only have control over the software you are running yourself, if you had any.

Leaving messages on the mens room wall spreads info anonymously. I don't think they'll ever crack that without looking at more cracks than they want.

about 7 months ago

Survey: Most IT Staff Don't Communicate Security Risks

GargamelSpaceman Re:one-way street (227 comments)

Management that hears it is put in the position of either using their budget to fix it to standard which they should have been following but weren't gaining them nothing, or admitting that THEY screwed up and asking for additional funds from their manager who would be in a similar position.

about 7 months ago

Survey: Most IT Staff Don't Communicate Security Risks

GargamelSpaceman Re:one-way street (227 comments)

Mark Twain said something along the lines of 'It's easier to fool people than convince them they've been fooled.'

about 7 months ago

Schneier: The US Government Has Betrayed the Internet, We Need To Take It Back

GargamelSpaceman Re:What is Bruce Schneier's game? (397 comments)

This is more interesting than what I posted. I wish I'd modded instead.

about 7 months ago

U.S. Gov't Still Fighting the Man Behind Buckyballs; Guess Who's Winning?

GargamelSpaceman Re: Sounds good to me (555 comments)

But you pay taxes on 3/3 so the other third goes to Uncle Sam. You'll be lucky if you don't owe taxes beyond what you won in court.

about 7 months ago

The STEM Crisis Is a Myth

GargamelSpaceman Re:Hanlon's Razor (284 comments)

Hanlon's Razor is absolutely essential in understanding things. It's because three can keep a secret if two of them are dead.

about 7 months ago

The STEM Crisis Is a Myth

GargamelSpaceman Re:degree != qualification (284 comments)

So when other countries stop having faith in an infinite number of Yankee Dollars (which they will) and stop taking them you'll see the whole thing come crashing down

If someone has something the US wants to buy ( like oil ) then they'll just be bombed till they do. Soon enough the powers that be will realize this ( they already have ) and just take the dollars and accept living like the kings they are *within the system*. If you have power, do you ally with the winning side, or do you attempt to find a coalition of those being shat upon? If you have power, you personally aren't being shat upon, because you rationally sell out. It's those with no power who are being shat upon - the poor. So who exactly is there to oppose power?

Macheavellii would say that it's always better to ally with the weaker side because it increases your leverage and prevents you from becoming someone's bitch, but do you really CARE if you are someone's bitch? I mean who wouldn't rather be a billionaire than a king? You get all the perks without the stress/risk/culpability

And the fact is, most humans are redundant. The world is going through a sea change as big as the one that caused an end to serfdom and brought forth the enlightenment and the rights of man. Instead of people being valuable b/c of megadeath caused by the black plague, and new untapped worlds opening up around the world begging for humans to take advantage the world is filling up. Stuff is more valuable than people. Now that humans are not valuable, they will be treated worse than before. I wouldn't be surprise to see a rolling back of the gains made since the middle ages. Only megadeath would seem to have a chance of making humans more valuable relative to things.

UC Davis' Gregory Clark has some iteresting insights about this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvZlXaGEzwg&list=PLmq9H75aU8iNWq2oXfH2y82yH1HzaITpa

Also, technology during the industrial revolution pushed human labor into pursuits that could not be mechanized. With thought itself more and more mechanizable, what is left for humans? http://www.businessinsider.com/paul-krugman-articles-about-robots-2012-12 ?

Paris Hilton is very productive. ( in the economic sense where work done with a backhoe is more productive than work done with a hand shovel ) Her labors are mixed with a very high level of capital. And what do those labors consist of? Merely not losing her money. Does she need to be superior in any way to perform her duties? is there any meritocracy going on? Well...

She can and likely does hire a finanacial planner. Brains are a dime a dozen.

She buys $40,000.00 purses. So at first glance it would seem she does a poor job at not losing her money. But she can afford $40,000.00 purses. That doesn't realy represent substantial consumption. Giving away half her money to someone who's never had money would involve *massive* consumption. If she gave me half her wealth, I would probably give half of it away to people I know who would also spread the wealth themselves etc. This would cause *millions* of dollars in consumption. A $40,000.00 purse is nothing.

So it seems Paris Hilton is far better qualified than I to be wealthy.

But isn't it weird that she doesn't have to do anything but not consume?

All she needs to do to not give away her wealth is insulate herself from need and the temptation to give it all away. That is, she need only stay amongst the her own kind and not mingle with the peasants.

Societies that support this tendency win out militarily because those societies with the most capital will be able to field the most fearsome militariy might including robotic military might. There is no reason to suppose that without valuable labor to parlay into means to consume, that most humans will have franchise in the future. As human endeavor becomes worth less humans will perish.

And robots should they come to mainly comprise the military, work against the naturally democratizing nature of military power which is that if the military comes from the peasantry then they will not kill the peasantry. It's no accident that the nobility WAS the military in the middle ages. It's the most efficient way to keep power in the hands of the fewest consumers. Technology would seem likely only to increase the levereage power can concentrate with. How few could actually run the world? Maybe someday zero.

But it's also likely that with concentrated power technological progress would slow.

The concentration of wealth and power leads to monopolies. And monopolies maximize profit, not production. This may actually be 'greener' than the alternative where production is maximized. The forests of Europe still have game. Would this be the case if they weren't owned by the nobility?

With the world divided amongst powerful monopolies who would have the incentive to disrupt things with new technology?

about 7 months ago

Your preferred Linux distribution for 2013?

GargamelSpaceman Re:Despite all of the complaining about it... (627 comments)

I've been using Xubuntu for a while, and like it. I switched from Kubuntu when some update of some widget I never heard of and probably didn't use messed me up to the point that it was easier to reinstall than track down the problem. I am not sure what kind of user you are, but Xubuntu's philosophy of leaving things out you probably don't need is the balance that fits me best.

about 8 months ago



Antidepressants no better than placebos

GargamelSpaceman GargamelSpaceman writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Anonymous Coward writes "Apparently three fourths of the benefit of antidepressants is due to the placebo effect, but where does the remaining 1/4th of the benefit come from? According to this article it may be because during studies, "Most volunteers hope they get the drug, not the dummy pill. After taking the unknown meds for a while, some volunteers experience side effects. Bingo: a clue they're on the real drug. About 80 percent guess right, and studies show that the worse side effects a patient experiences, the more effective the drug. Patients apparently think, this drug is so strong it's making me vomit and hate sex, so it must be strong enough to lift my depression. In clinical-trial patients who figure out they're receiving the drug and not the inert pill, expectations soar.""
Link to Original Source



NSA SSL Backdoors - are they real, how to avoid?

GargamelSpaceman GargamelSpaceman writes  |  about 7 months ago

What do people think of this?


and this sort of thing:

With this last one, is it enough or even possible to disable this random number generator on my own machine, or will talking to someone via ssl who uses this generator render my communication compromised? Also the first link talks about forging certificates? WTF?


Virtue and Vice in the Malthusian World

GargamelSpaceman GargamelSpaceman writes  |  about a year and a half ago

I have been watching a very interesting lecture on youtube. Part one wasn't that interesting because I'd heard it before, but starting with part 2 I was amazed. +1 insightful http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGjKKwrQbK8&feature=relmfu



GargamelSpaceman GargamelSpaceman writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Not a one time jubilee. It has to be a constant jubilee. All debts forgiven instantly as they are created. If debts could not be legally enforced, but only existed on the honor system, then they would be smaller.


Krugman: If the banks are outlawed only outlaws will have banks.

GargamelSpaceman GargamelSpaceman writes  |  more than 2 years ago


It's not news to me that there's nothing preventing FRB from going offshore if it were gone. It may not be practical to even do. But I think I can argue that if it could be done, it would not be harmful.

Krugman writes:

Like a lot of people, my insights draw heavily on Diamond-Dybvig (pdf), one of those papers that just opens your mind to a wider reality. What DD argue is that there is a tension between the needs of individual savers â" who want ready access to their funds in case a sudden need arises â" and the requirements of productive investment, which requires sustained commitment of resources.

Banks can largely resolve this tension, by offering deposits that can be withdrawn on demand, yet investing most of the funds thus raised in long-term, illiquid projects.

To this I say that money is just paper. If savers largely keep their money in shoeboxes under their beds then it is effectively irrelevant to the economy until it is spent. This helps to raise the value of the money that IS available for long term investment creating better incentives to invest long term for those with the vision and the means to do so.

According to Krugman, banks are those entities that borrow short and lend long. This creates adverse selection of ideas because those who prefer to take a loan rather than invest capital they already have are those who believe the interest will not be able to be repaid, but have some hope that their expectations may be exceeded. If you had a dollar it's better to use that dollar on an idea you believe to be good rather than borrow a dollar since you get to earn the interest yourself.

This is analogous to the adverse selection that takes place in the insurance industry. People buy insurance when they think they will need it.

Is it better to try things that you think will fail in the hope that they may succeed and have your expectations exceeded ( by relying on the Fed to increase the money supply so that you can pay the interest ) or is it better to try things that you think will probably succeed in the first place?

Productivity of bad ideas that can't work isn't real productivity.

If there is a lack of money available for long term investing then by all means create more money, but there's no reason banks must create it with a shell game involving other money only available short term. If the short term money is only available for the short term then let it sit harmless in a shoebox.


Get money out of speech.

GargamelSpaceman GargamelSpaceman writes  |  more than 2 years ago

For example, I live in a US state where billboards are outlawed in favor of small license plate sized signs. Remotely from a place of business it is the only kind of sign allowed. In my state, we are free from the eyesores billboards blocking up the scenery while still being able to find the nearest McDonald's by looking at the far less intrusive signs that are allowed.

Why is advertising so noisy? Because it must be obnoxiously noisy not to be DROWNED OUT BY ALL THE OTHER ADVERTISING.

By limiting volume, we preserve the peace, and also preserve the spirit of the first amendment by preventing those with the means from drowning out everyone else's voice like a GNAA troll with too much time on their hands.

The government already limits the power of radio transmitters including Citizen's Band radios, and regular FM radio stations. The power of money to transmit ideas also needs to be limited. This means political ideas as well as other ideas. Each must be able to voice their opinion, but it should not be possible to drown out everyone's voice because you can afford the largest loudspeaker.

I think it is probably possible for there to be laws limiting the volume of speech so that everyone can have their say heard without limiting it's content.

What do other people think?


People Live in the Cracks

GargamelSpaceman GargamelSpaceman writes  |  more than 2 years ago

People live in the cracks, meaning that chaos creates niches in which humanity can exist. Imagine if the world were perfectly efficient - you couldn't waste a second. Every waking moment would be accounted for, and you would consume no more than absolutely necessary to maintain your metabolism. You would be a human being encased in a metal life. Imagine how many more people the world could hold if we could only somehow get to absolute efficiency. 7 billion is nothing. Soylent Green is only the beginning.

500 million has been suggested as a good world population that would permit humans to live with some kind of dignity. I agree with this. 13/14 of us should just die ( just as long as me and mine are spared ). To leave a bit of room for growth, maybe half of the remainder should go too leaving 250 million or so survivors.

Yeah, I'm a genocidal maniac at heart. I'm not racist or anything, I don't care who lives and who dies as long as it's not me and mine doing the dying, but humans are pests - especially to other humans. I'm also too lazy to do anything about it, and I have doubts as to whether the living or the dead would be better off. Consider that those remaining living and their no doubt plentiful decendents would be cursed to live on. Some say: Life is suffering. And I don't believe in Nirvana.

At least the sun will go red-giant someday and cook all the unfortunate little earthlings into vapor.

But since I'm here, I'd rather live in style than not. Some, like the Libertarians, believe individual property is sacred, and some like the Communists, believe property is theft from everyone else who would use the property. ( note the capital L in Libertarians and the capital C in Communists, I'm talking about dogmatists here, not ordinary people )

I believe that property is theft, AND that there is *absolutely nothing wrong with theft*. If you can keep the property you claim ownership of then it is de-facto yours to enjoy. Those you stole it from ( everyone else ) should realise that you have wronged them, and you, the claimant to property should defend it from everyone else if you wish to keep it. This is how every other animal operates, and it is how honest humans operate too. The taboo against theft is a con as is the concept of ownership itself.

Might ALWAYS makes right. If you disagree your opinion is by definition wrong.
If you want to fight about it, then you're soon dead, and so your opinion is irrelevant. The living exist by force.

Read through the famous 'Ten Commandments'. There isn't one I agree with per se.

That being said, such cons are useful to manipulate others with. Moral absolutists crashing against each other create lots of cracks and debris in which to live. Moral absolutes are like a piece of rubbish plywood from which one can build as safe little shanty in which to live, or not, leaving it for the next denizen of the social slums to build with.

Philosophical rubbish isn't the only kind of trash in our environment. Your relationship with whatever institutions you depend on are merely unavoidable. You stick your holdfast into a crack and filter the water for food. If there were ever an institution that had no cracks, it would be a sentient machine with no need for humans at all.

If you are more than a 'wage slave' ( I don't like that term, but it's concise ) then your human dignity is due to your being a successful parasite upon the rest of society. Even 'wage slaves' steal their meager nutrients from everyone else by wedging their little holdfasts into a spot that for some reason can't yet be automated. Why can't we just obviate the need for these pesky humans???

Left, right, meh.. I think the left has shut it's collective mouth in recent decades because it realised that the things it traditionally advocated shrunk the overall economic pie, and everyone else realised it too. Some benefitted ( like those in unions that did not lose their jobs, or in some countries, eg, communist party bosses ), most did not.

Recently, in the absence of much of a left in a more rightward leaning environment, of course some still benefit while most do not.

The thing is capitalism exists even if it is outlawed, even if there is no money, even where it is anathema. Social capital, physical capital, political capital, favors etc are always traded. They are impossible to outlaw effectively. There's no point in trying. People are going to steal from each other and accumulate capital in whatever form people are using.

It's a truism, if someone is accumulating more than you, then they are stealing from you. You can try to accumulate more yourself by stealing from others, and this is the route most of us ( including me ) prefer, but that doesn't change the fact that relative success IS to be despised.

But then, ANY success is to be despised. It's generally wiser to steal from the weak, as they can't fight back. Do I steal a dollar from you, risking retribution, or kill a raccoon and steal it's pelt to sell for a dollar? The choice is a no-brainer.

There are too many humans anyway. Why not aid those stronger than you in plundering from the weaker? It's probably safer and pays better than other options right?

I have no problems with this per se.. It puts me on the winning side probably since I live in the first world. However it creates a monster in my own backyard that will some day come to eat me too.

Chaos needs to happen but it's not my job to cause it. I'd rather not be near any of it. I'd rather sit back and watch other people kill each other and mind my own business.

There's a monster growing in the US that needs to be put down so we can get back to being our blessedly lucky old isolationist selves.

There needs to be a constitutional ammendment to get the money out of politics.



GargamelSpaceman GargamelSpaceman writes  |  more than 2 years ago

I just heard about this Occupy Wall Street etc stuff two or three days ago. According to Wikipedia it's been going on since Sept 17th.... Lately I've been posting some journal entries in that vein. My earliest slashdot post along these lines was Sept 16th. However I'd been reading/viewing that sort of thing quite a bit for some days before that. Have these sort of ideas hit a critical mass on YouTube in September or something? It's just spooky.


The Man in the Mirror.

GargamelSpaceman GargamelSpaceman writes  |  more than 2 years ago

In a previous journal entry, I said:

A former Hillary Clinton supporter, and current Barack Obama supporter, I like McCain more than I like most Republicans. Part of me might almost be tempted to vote for him except... Well I like Barack's Health Care Plan better..

I guess I had hope that it might eventually morph into something more along the lines of Hillary's plan. I've had a bit of a sea change in my view of how the world works. I still would have voted for Barack Obama because of fear of Sarah Palin being VP though.

I have to look in the mirror and see that I am as easily manipulated as the Christian Right because I am pretty much their opposite on social issues. I will vote against their agenda because they terrify me. This effectively nullifies me wrt opposing any other issue the democrats may be being paid to support ( cf, Obamacare ). As long as the Christian Right votes Right, I will vote Left.

What to do?


Goldman Sachs Rules the World?

GargamelSpaceman GargamelSpaceman writes  |  more than 2 years ago

A must read: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-great-american-bubble-machine-20100405


And another link ( related to below )

GargamelSpaceman GargamelSpaceman writes  |  more than 2 years ago

From Chomsky's article I extracted the name Thomas Ferguson, which led to this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Investment_theory_of_party_competition


Interesting people on Youtube

GargamelSpaceman GargamelSpaceman writes  |  about 2 years ago

Chris Hedges & George Carlin ( listen to George talk about 'The owners of America' then Chris Hedges. Chris Hedges also has some interesting things to say about Christian Reconstructionists and Dominionists etc )
Michael Scheuer ( I haven't heard him say anything I disagree with yet ) Ex CIA talks about Arab Spring. Why the hell are we in Lybia, are we STOOPID???


Just Sit Right Back...

GargamelSpaceman GargamelSpaceman writes  |  about 2 years ago

So, I hear this song on the radio, that sounds like some nutso making up his own Book of Revelations, and it sounds familiar - it's something about a 'Hard Rain's a Gonna Fall' or something. The voice, it reminds me of, oh yeah, it's that guy who sings 'Rocky Mountain High', ok, so I look up 'Bob Denver' on the net, and up pops: GILLIGAN!


It's official: We're Japan.

GargamelSpaceman GargamelSpaceman writes  |  more than 2 years ago

There has been some debate about whether this was going to be a stagflationary recession or whether the US was going to follow the Japanese script.

The US just lost it's AAA credit rating. The result? Today google news shows stocks falling and Treasury Yeilds DROPPING.

The facts don't lie: We're Japan.

What's going on? Here's my basic economic worldview, and my take on things in a nutshell:

Spending money shifts PRESENT resources. You can't eat future porkbellies now. You can only eat pigs in existence at the present time. It doesn't matter how much money you borrow, the money can only obtain presently existing goods. You can spend money for a promise of bricks in the future, but you can not build a brick building in the here and now out of paper promises to deliver bricks in the future.

Money is government debt. The government will accept currency in payment of taxes. You need not deliver chickens, or lumber, or bushels of wheat when you pay your taxes, the government accepts cash. When you pay cash to the government, then you cancel a debt the government owes you.

The government then is free to shred these obligations, or reissue them by spending the notes again.

When the government spends money, it shifts present resources from private ends to public ends.

When the economy is booming, then there is already plenty of demand for resources like materials and labor, but in bust times, the prices of these things fall.

When the government shifts resources to public ends, the public ends are generally worthwhile when they grow the taxable base of the economy in a sustainable ( haha ) way, more than the private ends they would otherwise have been put to.

( Here I have to say that from my point of view almost nothing could be more worthwhile than for Uncle Sam to write me a nice check for 1 BILLION Dollars. Moo ha haa. Worthwhile is a relative concept of course. You would of course disagree. With a Billion dollars, I could buy some island and be coconut-king of it and the US could go to hell if they insisted. But without a billion dollars, I do care about what happens in the US since I live there. )

Big government spending during boom times creates inflation because there is already high demand, at the time the government is shifting resources away from private ends by spending. The competition for goods raises prices.

Big government spending during bust times utilizes idle goods when demand is slack keeping prices from falling in a deflationary spiral.

But how the government comes by the notes it spends becomes important.

Printing money has the effect of a tax on money holders. Conventional taxation gives the government finer control over how resources are shifted. Obtaining notes to spend by issuing public debt gives investors the choice to lend their money to the government rather than to a private enterprise.

When there are safe and attractive private investments, then the yields rise, but in bust times, and for the shortest term debt, yields are close to zero because there is insufficent competition for money. Nobody wants to spend.

But why should the government perpetually roll over short term debt at near zero percent when it could just issue a 0% fixed interest note such as the Federal Reserve Note?

If the government runs a deficit during bust times, then it will be spending more notes than it takes in with taxation. During boom times it would collect more revenue than it spent, possibly helping to cool things down.

Deflation can not take hold if the government commits to always spending sufficient notes to prevent it. Of course people may decide that because the economy is in the dumps, they will wait for the government dole of newly printed notes rather than embark on new enterprise. It's interesting how a crisis due to Fractional Reserve Banking could lead to a pathological concentration of government power.

But this is not likely anytime soon in the US.

LONG before the US was forced to fund any excessive and unproductive welfare dole scheme to spend sufficiently to effectively prevent deflation, there would LOTS of changes.

Repaying the national debt with newly created money would force those who now earn a small but positive interest rate to accept 0% to hold cash. Some would not find this acceptable. US creditors would do one of four things:

1 - Continue to be US Creditors by holding onto their cash and earn 0%.

2 - Invest the money in the US private sector.

3 - Buy US made goods.

4 - Invest the money in foreign private enterprise or foreign government debt.

1 - The US should commit to enough spending to make earning 0% unattractive.

2,3 - Investing in the private sector or buying US made goods will boost the economy. Great!

4 - Investing abroad will weaken the US dollar. This will make exporting easier, and will have the effect of lowering US consumers' buying power with respect to imports. THIS NEEDS TO HAPPEN - BADLY. In fact countries that hold large quantities of US Debt, do so to devalue their own currencies in the moral equivalent of a trade war. This is both a tarriff on imports from the US and a subsidy of exports to the US. The value of the tarriff accues to the government in question in the form of treasuries, while wages in that country are depressed. The skimmed value is ultimately paid for by the workers in the country ( China and Japan are examples ) in the form of wages paid in devalued currency.

China must artificially control foreign investment to maintain a devalued currency. Japan's relatively low yeilds have repelled foreign investment in Japan thusfar.

Though natural resources ( especially fossil fuels ) are destined to become more scarce in the near future, I believe there is easily sufficient room stimulate the economy by replacing interest bearing debt with newly created money to address very near term issues.

Imagine the effect on the US economy of suspending taxation temporarily but continuing to spend as before? If foreign powers insisted on continuing to devalue their currencies by holding excessive US cash, this is the magnitude of expense they might theoretically incur.

It would obviously not actually be necessary to follow through on such a drastic threat as foreign powers are pretty much rational actors.


The Real Reason To Limit Immigration

GargamelSpaceman GargamelSpaceman writes  |  more than 2 years ago


Capital is the main source of productivity in the US, NOT people.


Slashdot: Please stop improving!

GargamelSpaceman GargamelSpaceman writes  |  more than 2 years ago

I've been reading slashdot less frequently than I did of old. Mostly because of all the javascript 'improvements'.

When I do read slashdot it's for the stories, and the community. Ideally slashdot would be much like a usenet newsgroup except for some editorial control over the stories posted. In fact, I wish the slashdot community would move to some other place like a usenet group with that sort of interface.

Now I hate the improvements when using firefox, but I mostly use w3m or lynx to view slashdot, which has insulated me from some of the worst of it I'm sure, but sometimes it makes a feature unusable for me.

For instance, I thought I'd use a couple of my 15 moderator points ( why does slashdot give 15 points instead of 5? my guess is others like me have almost completely stopped moderating because the improvements have made moderating such a hassle, so they think that by giving more points, more moderation will be done. It's a hassle. You want people saying: Oh that's so good I'll moderate that comment instead of posting one of my own. And you want moderators to look at the low ranked comments and mod them up which is a hassle because they are hidden requiring multiple clicks to read. It's difficult to scan a bunch of low ranked comments deep down in threads because of the hiding. I don't bother.

Except today I did bother, but found it very difficult because I could no longer use w3m to moderate as there is no Moderate button. It seems that the dropdown box uses Javascript to submit the change when you make the selection and there is no Moderate button to allow one to do this manually.

Having a way to operate the site without javascript ought to be a fundamental requirement of any site for general consumption.

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